CeLab: A Miniature Easy to Use C. elegans Lab on a Chip for Research

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CeLab: A Miniature Easy to Use C. elegans Lab-on-chip for Research


Princeton Docket # 22-3844



Researchers in Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology have developed a miniature C. elegans laboratory, CeLab, that consists of microfluidic chips, automated fluid workflow, and image capturing and analysis platform to automate a variety of worm assays. CeLab chip is a highly complicated, reusable multi-layer Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) structure which has 200 separate incubation arenas allowing the long-term culture of 200 individual animals per chip (1000 worms at maximum capacity). The embedded well-plate feature of our chip offers a novel worm-loading technique for loading up to 200 mutants through separate ports per chip with 100% yield. Furthermore, the programmable fluidic platform enables automated daily operations. Up to 6 chips or 6000 worms (1200 worms, 1 animal per chamber) can be simultaneously monitored on the motorized image capturing platform. CeLab can perform assays such as lifespan, reproductive span, brood size, choice preference, eating assay, dietary restriction, axon regeneration, stress, locomotory, and embryonic and post- embryomic development assays.

Furthermore, in addition to genetic and drug screening, CeLab can carry out longitudinal, high resolution, and high throughput microscopy. Our plug-and-play device is highly reliable, versatile, easy-to-use with minimal operational costs and environmental impact which offers high flexibility in experimental design. With intermittent feeding protocol, optional manual mode of operation, and the capability to be switched to manual scoring using a benchtop microscope, it very closely resembles the plate assays and can be easily adopted by biological researchers. Even with completely manual daily operation and scoring, we reported that carrying out LS and RS assays using CeLab is 7x faster than corresponding plate assays which can significantly expedite worm research. 




  •  C. elegans research



  • Easy to use, reliable and versatile
  • Plug and play device
  • High throughput
  • Easily adoptable by researchers
  • Fast, expedites worm research



C. elegans is a powerful model organism widely used to study genetic pathways controlling cellular processes. Worm assays often require a large sample size with frequent physical manipulations, rendering them highly labor-intensive. Current microfluidic technologies to automate worm experiments are assay-specific, single-use with limited capacity, complicated to operate, and are often as slow as traditional assays which effectively prevent its widespread adoption by biological researchers.



Intellectual Property & Development Status

Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.


The Inventors


Salman Sohrabi– Salman Sohrabi is a postdoctoral fellow in Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University in Dr. Coleen Murphy’s lab. Previously, he received his PhD from Lehigh University in Mechanical Engineering where he worked with Dr. Yaling Liu on variety of topics such as drug delivery, mechanical cell damage, microfluidics, stereolithography, circulating tumor cell capture, and molecular dynamic simulation. In his postdoc, he applied his engineering skillset to develop tools to automate genetic and drug screening using C. elegans. Working in a molecular biology lab and through his close collaboration with molecular biologists, geneticist, and neuroscientist, he has acquired quality bench experience to carry out high-impact research on aging and age-related diseases. During his work in Murphy lab, he has developed CeSnAP (C. elegans Snapshot Analysis Platform), CeLab (a miniature C. elegans Lab), CeAid (C. elegans Application for inputting data) and MemoryMachine.



Coleen T Murphy- Associate Professor and Richard B. Fisher Preceptorship in Integrative Genomics; Department of Molecular Biology, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, and Princeton Neuroscience Institute


The Murphy lab studies the process of aging, including the decline of cognitive and reproductive capacities with age, which remain some of the fundamental mysteries in biology.  While aging may appear to be an unfortunate consequence of living, recent genetic breakthroughs suggest that aging is a regulated process, rather than the result of cumulative cellular damage.  Many chronic and degenerative disorders, including diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, develop in an age-related manner.


The emergence of model systems to study aging and the development of whole-genome approaches is providing an unprecedented glimpse into the processes underlying aging.  Our understanding of aging at the molecular level will progress from identifying these global regulators, to defining the genes that they control, to describing the biochemical events that carry out the business of keeping an organism's cells alive.  Using C. elegans as a model system, behavioral, genomic, genetic, biochemical, robotic, and computational approaches are undertaken in the Murphy lab to understand the molecular mechanisms of aging.





Laurie Tzodikov

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

(609) 258-7256 • tzodikov@princeton.edu











Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Prabhpreet Gill
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Coleen Murphy
Salman Sohrabi